World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling for a legally-binding international agreement to eliminate plastic discharge into the oceans”, supported by strong national targets to achieve 100% plastic waste recycled and reusable by 2030.
Coinciding with World Oceans Day, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) report, “Out of the Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from plastic pollution”, look at the effects “excessive plastic use, poor waste management and mass tourism” are having on the Mediterranean Sea.
The report presents a detailed roadmap of what it calls the “urgent actions” institutions, businesses and citizens need to take to stop plastic waste from reaching the sea.
According to the report, delays and gaps in plastic waste management in most Mediterranean countries are among the root causes of plastic pollution.
We cannot let the Mediterranean drown in plastic. We need to act urgently and across the whole supply chain to save our ocean from the pervasive presence of plastics.
Out of the 27 million tonnes of plastic waste produced each year in Europe [EU-28, Norway and Switzerland], only a third is recycled; half of all plastic waste in Italy, France and Spain ends up in landfills, it says.
Recycled plastics currently account for only 6% of plastics demand in Europe, the report says.
WWF is urging governments, businesses and individuals to adopt a number of actions to reduce plastic pollution in urban, coastal and marine environments in the Mediterranean and globally.
These include the adoption of a “legally-binding international agreement to eliminate plastic discharge into the oceans”, supported by strong national targets to achieve 100% plastic waste recycled and reusable by 2030; and national bans for single-use plastic items such as bags.
A call to businesses to invest in innovation and design toward more effective and sustainable plastic use is also being urged.
Mediterranean sea plastic
John Tanzer, Leader, Oceans, WWF International, said: “The impacts of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean are also being felt across the world and are causing serious harm both to nature and human health.
“Worsening plastic pollution will threaten the Mediterranean’s global reputation for tourism and seafood, undermining the local communities who depend on these sectors for their livelihoods.
“The plastics problem is also a symptom of the overall decline in the health of the Mediterranean and must serve as a rallying call for real action.”
Today, plastic represents 95% of the waste floating in the Mediterranean and lying on its beaches, WWF says.
Most of this plastic is released into the sea from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France, with tourists visiting the region increasing marine litter by 40% each summer, the report states.
Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director, WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative, said: “In Europe, we produce an enormous amount of plastic waste, the majority of which is sent to landfills, resulting in millions of tonnes of plastic entering the Mediterranean Sea each year.
“This contaminating flow, combined with the Mediterranean being semi-enclosed, has seen harmful microplastics reach record concentration levels, threatening both marine species and human health.
“We cannot let the Mediterranean drown in plastic. We need to act urgently and across the whole supply chain to save our ocean from the pervasive presence of plastics.
“Plastic pollution is too pervasive to be solved by one continent, one government or one industrial sector alone, and it affects us all. It is only by acting together that we can free our oceans, rivers, cities and lives from unnecessary plastic.”